The Star (Nairobi)

12 January 2013

Kenya: Boda Boda Riders Battle Police in Kisii Riot

MORE than 2000 angry boda boda operators in Kisii yesterday barricaded the Kisii-Kilgoris road to protest what they termed as harrassment by police.

The clashes came after an operation by the area traffic police, led by base commander James Ekwenye, launched an operation against offenders.

Ekwenye attributed most of the road accidents in the town to lack of regard for traffic rules by the motorcycles and vowed not to relent in the crackdown

"We are not going to allow the operators to conduct their businesses with impunity. They must obey the new traffic rules," Ekwenye after his men had dispersed the unruly riders and members of the public who had joined their protest.

He said most of the 43 motorcycles impounded were operating illegally because they had no licenses and the riders had no licences, reflector jackets and helmets.

Ekwenye together with his officers were compelled to lobby tear gas canisters to disperse the operators and members of the public who joined them in barricading the road.

"We are not going to bend even if they confront us. The operators must abide the law to letter if they want to go on with their businesses," added the base commander.

The traffic commander at the same time blamed owners for employing underage boys as cyclists saying they risk high fines.

Ekwenye said: "The owners are not managing their businesses well because if they do then they should not employ underage boys who not posses licenses even the experience required,"

On Thursday the operators clashed with traffic police officers over harassment claims which the Ekwenye dismissed saying they were just making noise because they know nothing about the new law.

The operators numbering about 300 and who were carrying stones forced the officers to scamper for their safety.

Ekwenye said that Kisii operators need be sentisitized on the importance of observing the laws as they are laid down to avoid such confrontations.

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